Remote Sensing, Vol. 11, Pages 1416: Comparison of Pixel- and Object-Based Classification Methods of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Data Applied to Coastal Dune Vegetation Communities: Casal Borsetti Case Study (Remote Sensing)
Coastal dunes provide the hinterland with natural protection from marine dynamics. The specialized plant species that constitute dune vegetation communities are descriptive of the dune evolution status, which in turn reveals the ongoing coastal dynamics. The aims of this paper were to demonstrate the applicability of a low-cost unmanned aerial system for the classification of dune vegetation, in order to determine the level of detail achievable for the identification of vegetation communities and define the best-performing classification method for the dune environment according to pixel-based and object-based approaches. These goals were pursued by studying the north-Adriatic coastal dunes of Casal Borsetti (Ravenna, Italy). Four classification algorithms were applied to three-band orthoimages (red, green, and near-infrared). All classification maps were validated through ground truthing, and comparisons were performed for the three statistical methods, based on the k coefficient and on correctly and incorrectly classified pixel proportions of two maps. All classifications recognized the five vegetation classes considered, and high spatial resolution maps were produced (0.15 m). For both pixel-based and object-based methods, the support vector machine algorithm demonstrated a better accuracy for class recognition. The comparison revealed that an object approach is the better technique, although the required level of detail determines the final decision.